I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land…
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I’ve always made my way down to the rivers. Even now as I sit on my back porch, I hear the rush of the Assabet a half mile to the north, already filled with an early and surprising winter melt. Any leaf of me could fall and be carried back to the fork of the Sudbury and Concord rivers. My whole life has been a continual returning to these three rivers and my common ground—the water, fields, woods and village of Concord and now, just to the west, the small mill town of Maynard.
More and more I remember less and less, but there are still granite walls that will not change for another thousand years and still a few hills to defy development; still a few farmstands with the same trucks and tractors parked by weathered sheds, and still a few cantankerous old souls hiding their smiles behind seventy or eighty New England winters. I wonder if they remember the kid who worked for them so long ago? I wonder what they remember? I wonder what they wish they’d kept?
This collection is my way of keeping what I remember. Musketaquid is the native name for the Concord River. Someone once told me that it meant “slow moving river.” It seemed like a fine and apt name to me, so much so that it didn’t bother me to discover the actual translation is “grass grown river.” The fields are now all wooded over—a bramble of Hawthorne and Swamp Maple hiding almost every view; but it still a slow moving river—and always will be. Even the Nipmucks would have to agree with that.
These songs, poems and ramblings are what I have to add to the rivers. They are the small streams of my experience becoming a smaller part of the Musketaquid, which, hopefully, flows into some greater sea of understanding and insight. They are the good, the bad, and the ugly drafts of my life scattered in here with the randomness of the winds and tides that have driven me and carried me to so many shores—and have always brought me home.
These are the poems, stories, rambles, and reflections that have been written over a long run of time, usually close to home, but often in far off places, and sometimes simply as conversations with my students, friends, or family, but always within dreamshot of the beautiful, beautiful rivers that ramble through my home.
Thanks, and I hope you enjoy some part of what is here.
One good cigar is better than two bad cigars, or so it seems right now. It is a beautiful and stormy night–pouring rain and howling wind, and I thought a good smoke would be a fitting end to a busy and over-booked week. As it goes, I bought a couple of cheap cigars, and neither one does what a good cigar is built to do, so the night and the occasion feels cheapened and diminished. The metaphor is not too hard to extend to any venture (or vice). You get what you pay for, and you harvest what you plant in that stubble of field we call our life.
Half the battle is in the discernment of what is good and what is bad, and the other half is battling through our myopic prejudices, our stubborn pride and insistence on being right–otherwise known as righteousness–and in our pure and blinding ignorance that coddles us in our cloud of unknowing. The irony is in how simple it is to make the next step, to take a reaper’s scythe and mow through the bullshit weeds that sprout madly in the fields of the weak (myself duly included) and make some sort of navigable cowpath to a place that is better, more enduring and less cumbersome to the a more noble and fitting pursuit of life.
As convenient as it is to say, “Just do it,” we can’t just undo what is bound to our weaker nature whose many gangly sinews weave a tough web of inertia until we are a teaming mass of shallow roots and hedgerow of flimsy twigs. We have no core from which we live. We have no sturdy limbs to prune and train in a higher canopy of life, and so we hack and strike until we are no more than a pile of flimsy faggots of deadwood. But hack and strike we must, if only to leave our previous life as the detritus of moldering compost to enrich a future soil.
The stale, tinny taste from this cheap cigar hangs on me like a flimsy coat in this raging storm. It drenches me in the fallible frame I’m hung to; it drowns me in my weaknesses and batters me and curses me to do the things I never seem to do.
There is seldom a red-carpet celebration when a book of poetry is released, so I will keep this a quiet and humble affair. My newest book of poetry, “Crows & Swallows” is now on iBooks, so fresh you can almost smell the ink. My business model is unchanged: It is a free download:) I’ll reap whatever it is poets reap somewhere down the road. Share if you can…A nice review on the store won’t hurt either…
One good cigar is better than two bad cigars, or so it seems right now. It is a beautiful and stormy night–pouring rain and howling wind, and I thought a good smoke would be a fitting end to a busy and over-booked week. As it goes, I bought a couple of cheap […]
There is seldom a red-carpet celebration when a book of poetry is released, so I will keep this a quiet and humble affair. My newest book of poetry, “Crows & Swallows” is now on iBooks, so fresh you can almost smell the ink. My business model is unchanged: It is a free download:) I’ll reap […]
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